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Pandora Reaches Out To Independents

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

Pandora on air

On Tuesday, we attended an event hosted by AIMP (Association of Independent Music Publishers) here in Nashville, and heard from two ladies representing Pandora.

If you’ve been living in a cave, Pandora is the top internet radio company.

Using their phones and computers, customers can pull up music from their favorite artists, and Pandora’s technology creates a customized station including familiar songs, and new music the person might like.

The company tags songs with hundreds of attributes that describe what the music sounds like – for example: driving beat, sad, heavy guitars, minor melody, etc., and then based on what the customer says he likes, Pandora can deliver up a playlist that will keep him happy.

You can either listen for free with periodic advertisements that help pay for the music rights, or you can purchase a subscription that offers you more options and fewer ads.

Historically, songwriters and publishers and some artists have complained in the media about the low royalty payouts to the creators of the music from online radio services, especially Pandora.

But the ladies at the Nashville office have been charged with re-confirming Pandora’s commitment to independent artists, and helping indies build their careers using the reach of Pandora’s powerful radio platform.

Some artist rights advocates might accuse us of treason by making these enthusiastically hopeful statements about Pandora, however, it does seem like things are on the upward swing based on Tuesday’s meeting.

Ever since the internet made distribution easy, there has been an unwelcome gut of mediocre music to wade through to get to the good stuff.

In answer to this problem – Pandora doesn’t accept all music. Therefore, there’s a bit of screening that goes into making sure the songs customers hear are of a certain quality and caliber.

The next bit of good news is that, according to the Pandora Reps, the newly negotiated direct deals are weighing in at songwriters and publishers making around 20% of what the record companies are making. That’s huge considering that the previous figures are closer to songwriters/publishers making 4% and labels getting 96%. As for independents, we’ll adopt the old Tibetan mantra of “we shall see.”

Another thing we like is Pandora’s aggressive lift the little guy strategy. New artists who have at least one song streaming on Pandora are able to feature up to 6 songs per year, which is kind of like a boost on your social media pages.

You can create a liner notes style call to action to run after your featured song, and it can point the listener anywhere but Spotify.

One case study showed up to a 30% click through rate to a video, and you could easily provide a call to action to iTunes or some other retailer where you can entice the customer to purchase an album, or single download. These generate more income per unit that the Pandora or YouTube streams alone.


For you die hard country guys reading this thinking none of this applies to you, think again. Pandora has a newly created “Country Sad Songs” station that is a direct response to the huge volume of searches done on the service for that very thing. Where else are you going to hear a sad country song these days? Apparently 1.5 million people want to know.

Another good thing is that new artists can be found on Pandora, because of their influences. Instead of just searching by genre, the technology helps people find music based on other criteria – so folks who have a wide range of tastes can really have a good listening experience on Pandora.

Music lovers who understand why it’s important for them to still purchase music directly from the creators – preferably in a physical format – even if it’s just to hang on the wall – can really help to swing the tide of supporting a thriving musical artist community.

Are you a Pandora listener? Appalled by the suggestion? Leave your comments below.

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